Classic Audio Reproductions

Several people have asked me about these speakers so I have started a new thread for them.

A long time ago we were looking at building an easy to drive subwoofer for use with other speakers. I mentioned the idea to John Wolfe of Classic Audio Reproductions and (coincidence?) a few months later, when I attended the Philadelphia Triode Show, John was showing a speaker he called the Project T-1. It was everything I had hoped for in a subwoofer, but this speaker used a midrange horn and tweeter as well. It was easy to drive (97db, 8 ohms) and full bandwidth, going from 20Hz to 20KHz. The subwoofer never did get built :)

Later he built a variant called the T-3, that had the same specs but used a different midrange horn, although the crossover and midrange driver were the same. The different horn allowed for a narrower cabinet that was a little taller- this one worked well for my room at home and so I bought a pair.

It has proven to be one of the better investments I've made in the audio world. I've had them a long time, since 1999 and they have never failed to please. They handle any type of music and can shake the entire house with a set of our M-60s, which run full-range on them. While not the last word in definition compared to finest ESLs, I've never had any qualms about putting them up against the 'finest' cone speakers. They are easy to set up; in my room they are 6" from the rear wall.

Newer versions are 16 ohms, employing a forward-firing woofer and a down-firing woofer. Sixteen ohms, BTW is a very simple means for getting more resolution out of your system, as nearly every amplifier made sounds better on 16 ohms than it will on 4 or 8 ohms. Speaker cables become far less critical too.

More recently John has been playing with field-coil powered drivers. I heard the new midrange driver at the 2008 T.H.E. Show, and if I had any reservations about resolution compared to ESLs they vanished at that show. The new driver is a bolt-in replacement for the original driver.

Some people have commented to me that they can't deal with 'that horn sound' or some such; I don't hear any horn 'artifact' at all. That is not to say that I've not heard other horn systems exhibit shouty, honky qualities that have been associated with horns. Instead I find this speaker to be tonally neutral, highly detailed, capable of excellent imaging and delicacy, while at the same time carrying on with impact and wallop, very much like real music. Quite a few people have commented to me: 'they sound like ESLs' ...or something... ESLs often don't have that kind of weight behind them.

Overall this is one of the finest speakers I've heard, and one of the easier ones to live with. Even after 9 years I come home from shows and audiophile's homes and never feel like I'm missing a thing. They're not cheap, but in terms of how long I will be able to run them without embarrassment :) they are dirt cheap.
Superb post.You'va answered any questions I might have.
I'd like to hear a pair of Classic Audio speakers if anyone owns them in S. California (any model...T1, T3 or T5).
There are a pair of T1 for sale on the GON right now Tvad, the zip is in Cal but I don't if its So Cal. Maybe he would let you come over for a listen if you ask.
Hi all,
They're mine and any member is welcome to audition in SF bay area, just email.
I can respect that many find these speakers to be the cat's meow. I've only heard them in the less than ideal show circumstances. My friends and I, as well as some others exiting the demo rooms, were very dissapointed. I still think they have all the nasty traits that I find so distastefull in horns. I have no reason to steal the joy they may bring others, but I think it fair to present the other point of view. Many find the speakers and whole systems for that matter, that I seem to prefer, distastefull. To each his own.
Thank you for posting about these speakers, Ralph. As many have come to know, your amplifiers with synergistic loudspeakers are capable of musical reproduction that equals the world's best. Your comments regarding higher impedance loudspeakers motivated me to have high impedance (13 ohms nominal, 10 minimum) line arrays designed which are a testament to the validity of your comments. Lest some dismiss this as pertaining to OTLs only, Mike Sanders of Quicksilver made the same comments about my loudspeaker impedance profile when used with his amps - they will play with lower distortion.

As you and I both know, tubed amps with properly designed/matched loudspeakers is not the only worthy paradigm for the end of the musical reproduction chain. But your continued education of folks like me about important considerations within this paradigm deserves both mention and gratitude.
First off, sorry you couldn't make it to the Audio Karma Fest '08 in the Detroit, Michigan area this weekend Ralph, I was so looking forward to meeting and speaking with you as were many of our local audiophile club members (South-east Michigan Audio Club SMAC), maybe next year. It was a great weekend and I had the pleasure of meeting John Wolfe of CAR audio for the first time. John was running the midrange and bass field coil in the T-1's on Saturday and the midrange field coil on Sunday. All I can say is he has successfully taken my favorite speaker on the planet and made it substantially more revealing. Equipped with a large bag of vintage vinyl on hand, I was able to really get a sense for how great these drivers perform on a broad range of music that is very intimate to me. A dear friend of mine has had me sitting on his couch in front of the CAR T-3’s for years now, driven by your Atmasphere M-60’s and now in a smaller living room with the Atma S-30. I have even strapped on the Atma MA-1 Mk. III Silver editions that grace my own living room (thank you very much) and I am completely convinced that this pairing of speakers and amps has brought me more musical satisfaction than anything else I’ve heard (short of live music, in some cases) and I realize how bold of a statement that may be. This weekend confirmed for me what has been creeping up for a long while, I too will be making the move to CAR speakers. I could go on and on with superlatives that would drive the readers of this thread crazy, all I can say is if someone hasn’t sat in front of this combo and listened, IMHO they are missing out on a real pleasurable experience and very likely coming closer to the music they love.

Happy Listening!
Heard them at a hi-fi show and they sound very good. At 10k used they are certainly worth a audition.IMHO
The speakers are big, heavy, and may be impractical for many people.

But they are incredibly easy to drive and sound terrific. Horn dynamics and panel imaging.

Give them a listen if you have the opportunity.